wooden furniture makers from North showcase down south

Wooden furniture makers from North showcase down south

Homegirl London pays homage to furniture makers from the North of England.  This year’s Design Event, which is part of the London Design Festival, will be showcasing interior product designers from the North.  I was particularly interested in the furniture makers working with timber to make exceptionally well crafted wooden furniture.  I’ve selected three designers to talk to you about – Raskl Design Studio, Afid Design and Laura McKay.  They tell me about their joy of working with timber, their favourite piece of wooden furniture which they’ll be exhibiting at the Design Event and about their Northern location.

wooden furniture raskl design studio free standing clothign rail

Free Standing Clothes Rail – Kaori

Wooden Furniture by Raskl Design Studio

Raskl Design Studio makes furniture and lifestyle products in wood plus installations and bespoke pieces.  They explain their use of timber as a major material in their work – “Wood lends a substantial feel to a piece immediately giving a sense of it being built to last.  If finished sympathetically it also provides a natural texture and patina unrivalled by other materials.  We also use modern wood-based materials such as Valchromat which is reconstituted wood bonded with natural non-toxic resins.  We combine traditional techniques with Robotic machinery to ensure our products are both robust and ascetically pleasing.”

wooden furniture raskl design studio

Raskl Design Studio – Dan Rose, Brad Mole and David Angus

Their favourite piece is the Kaori Clothes Rail.  This is a fusion of traditional and modern materials and techniques which capture influences from shaker and Japanese minimal.  It’s collapsible which means it can be stored away if needed.  The material used is bent ash which has been powder coated in aluminium for decorative interest.

wooden furniture raskl design studio kaori freestanding clothes rail

Freestanding Clothes Rail – Kaori

The Design Studio is located in the Ouseburn Valley which is in Newcastle upon Tyne.  They tell me – “The North has a world class heritage in design and engineering and this still permeates through the area.  The Ouseburn is a unique location where the majority of residents are creative companies making a very tight cluster of talented people.  It was picked as The Times Number One Hip Spot this year.”

Wooden Furniture by Afid Design

Michael Armstrong of Afid Design hand makes freestanding furniture including coffee tables, shelving and storage units plus accessories like candle holders.  He pays special attention to the use of traditional jointing techniques and hand oiled finishes.  Much of Michael’s work is bespoke which allows him to select the right timber for each project.  He’s passionate about using FSC certified hardwood for his creations, he says – “You just have to watch people’s reaction to timber and the hand oiled finish.  They automatically reach out and touch the chair or cabinet, appreciating the natural warmth and tactile nature of the material.”

wooden furniture afid design owner michael armstrong

Michael Armstrong

Michael’s favourite piece is the ES Storage Unit made from FSC Certified hardwoods.  He tells me – “The form is simple with an uncomplicated appearance and is somewhat Scandinavian in feel.  It incorporates radius details along with simple linear handles.  These are made in a number of sizes with flexible specifications.”

wooden furniture afid design storage cabinet with doors

Storage Cabinet with Doors – ES Unit

Michael just loves working in his vibrant creative environment based at 36 Lime Street Studios.  It’s an old flax mill based in the cultural enclave of the Ouseburn Valley in Newcastle upon Tyne.  He explains – “The building was taken over by a community of creatives some thirty years ago it has developed organically ever since and is still run and managed by the current studio residents.  The Ouseburn valley is brimming with artists, architects, pottery studios and much more.”

Wooden Furniture by Laura McKay

Laura McKay has worked with timber on a number of projects, she reveals – “The smell of wood in a dusty workshop is as familiar and comforting as the smell of my mums perfume I remember when I was young.  Understanding the properties of wood as well as intuitively working with the grain is complex; it requires patience and experience.  The thing I love most about wood is that it’s natural and unpredictable.  No two pieces are the same, this can be complicated and challenging to work with but rewarding when done right.”

wooden furniture laura mckay

Laura McKay

Laura tells me about her favourite piece – “With the Slope Desk I had a breakthrough; gaining the courage to realise that simplicity is more and good ideas should stand alone.  The Formica brings a splash of colour and the rich oak depth and stability, the slope is more than a metaphor.  The desk angle allows the user to focus on only the work that’s required at the moment.  The spacious desk dimensions and wide set legs allow full access and plenty of surface space.  It’s designed to keep clutter at bay and productivity high.”

wooden furniture laura mckay slope home office desk

Home Office Desk – Slope Desk

Laura is based in Warkworth, Northumberland where she grew up.  She tells me – “Its outstanding natural beauty is of infinite inspiration and being at home in my garden is perfect chill time.  This mixed with living in Newcastle; a busy bustling city with beautiful architecture and friendly creative people is the perfect recipe for my sketchbook to be full of ideas.”

Wooden furniture – exhibited at the Design Event

Design Event will be hosted at Designjunction which is a showcase for contemporary designers.  Designjunction runs from 18-21 September 2014 and is situated at the Old Sorting Office on New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1BA.  The Design Event focusses on graduates and rising talent from the North of England.  The aim is to support, promote and publicise their exceptional work to the UK and beyond.  They are a community interest organisation which is non-profit making.  The Design Event and Designjunction are part of the annual London Design Festival which takes place from 13-25 September 2014.  It comprises of around three hundred events spread across the capital.  There are a number of prominent design destinations which include Designjunction, Tent London, Super Brands London, 100% Design and Decorex International.

Author: Homegirl London.  Photographs: Raskl Design Studio, Afid Design and Laura McKay.  Thanks: Raskl Design Studio, Afid Design, Laura McKay and David Gorrod.